Dressed for Business

Head From Mata Hari

by Jim Christy


Oh, Mata, Mata, Gretha
Gretha, I boast no gold
Braid, nor proud epaulets.
No fruit salad spilled
Across my chest. I don
Only the poet’s uniform.
So thank you even more
For the afternoon at the Meurice,
For fitting me in between
Generals. But it’s I
Who will be there proclaiming,
Before the white wigs, you
Pure, pristine as sands of
Java beaches of young
Womanhood, near the temples
Where you danced. See, I
Even believe the lies you
Believe, which is the secret
Of your profound sincerity. I
Apologize for everything that
Came later, except for loutish
Garbo in that movie. The fine
Officers deserted you, Mata,
And your Russian, but not me,
I who cradled your corpse
On the killing ground. Ah,
Mata, your graying hair tucked
Under the tri-cornered hat
Like dust under a rug. The
Run in the cheap stockings
They allowed. The two nuns
Wept. That night, like the secret
I was, I sneaked into the Institute
Of Anatomy and stole
Your severed head, and have
It still.